Upon opening the box of the Alien Gear ShapeShift Holster kit, I was bewildered with a vast array of do-dads, nick-nacks and parts. It took me around ten minutes or so to sort through it. I was not displeased with the end results. The holster comes standard, with a variety of flavors which are inside the waistband, outside the waistband, appendix and a paddle holster.
To swap between the various holsters, start with the primary shell and by simply sliding it into the parts that will shift it into the desired configuration. Each setup has its own parts that are easily interchanged, simple and easy to build. The system is kept in place with plastic, half turn nuts that lock down the parts. These same nuts have extended wings for better leverage while turning and they also act as the tension adjustment tool. Initial setup is approximately ten minutes with additional transitions taking, at most, 2 minutes but more likely will be done in under 30 seconds.
I’ve been using the ShapeShift with my Glock 19 both as a competition and daily carry set up. With competitions I’ve been running it as a paddle system, molle’d onto a Grey Ghost Precision UGF belt. With the molle system, I have had a small amount of frustration. The molle inserts are locked with a plastic bar, the molle extends roughly two inches past the molle. This would cause the holster to ride up when I was attempting to draw. I solved this problem by simply installing the molle upside down. This places the excess material up preventing it from interfering with my draw and creates a system where the holster will only slide when I am returning it to the holster, a time where I am more interested in control than speed.
Another interesting feature of the paddle system is an optional thumb release. From my own shooting experience, I am not a huge fan of retention systems being a part of the holster system. I removed the thumb release with minimal fuss and a hex key (it is optional). For those shooters that either need or desire the additional retention, it is intuitively placed in a way that it can be engaged with a natural grip. The paddle holster has a quick disconnect button that can be used to quickly move it to different mounting systems.
As a daily carry, I have used both outside the belt and inside the belt setups. Outside the waist is comfortable, has good retention and is low profile enough that it can be worn with a jacket or loose shirt over it and not be overly noticeable. The only drawback is that the rigidity of the plastic doesn’t allow the holster to conform to the body. This isn’t a major issue, just be aware that you’re going to have to let your belt out at least a notch.
The inside the belt setup works very well to conceal the firearm and is not uncomfortable. I’ve gone out in nothing but a t-shirt and shorts with no one taking notice that I was carrying. I generally have the holster set up behind my hip on the right side, this gives me a good draw and helps to lower the profile of the gun. If you have the holster setup directly on the hip you’ll have a more distinct bulge and it tends to be a little more uncomfortable.
The ShapeShift comes with attachments that can be mounted to hard surfaces. They utilize the paddle holster’s quick disconnect setup so that you can move it quickly from your holster to your mounting point. The standard system is $99.88 bucks but can be supplemented with additional options which include ankle holster, shoulder holster, drop holster and backpack systems, additional options meaning additional price. It’s a solid product which in my opinion is more, jack of all trades master of none. It’s true value, I believe, is that it for a very reasonable price you get four holsters with one purchase. You can buy a specialized holster for your needs for $40 bucks that do that specialty perfectly or if you need a more rounded system you can get the Shape Shifter for a little over double that can do the job of four.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to really test the durability of the holster outside of range and travel settings, but I have a feeling that it is going to hold up well. Of note for the gun nuts out there, like me, I recently put a threaded Velocity Arms barrel and Zev Compensator for my Glock. To continue using the holster it took two cuts with a Dremel tool to cut an open bottom in the holster to fit it…. Initial dry fires are promising and range time to follow.
John Gobby is a member of 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment. He has served with them for eight years and seven combat deployments. He has experience with both tactical direct action, tactical reconnaissance and covert operations. Recently he has started participating in competition pistol shoots and has a passion for long range shooting.